Sunday, June 07, 2009

War and Peace

When I was a teenager, I engrossed myself in reading many of the world’s finest novels, and this formed a greater part of my education. During the summer of my eighteenth year, I read Leo Tolstoy’s epic story, War and Peace. One episode has lasted with me through the years. It is when one of the main characters, called Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, a dashing young lieutenant in the Tsar's army, is severely wounded in a battle with the French. Amid the carnage of the battlefield, Andrei has fallen with an almost fatal wound to his stomach and as he is bleeding in the grass, he gazes upward into the blue sky and sees lazy clouds drifting serenely above him. Suddenly he is struck how incongruous it all is. Amidst the mayhem and violence all around, and facing his own death, he nonetheless sees that the day is beautiful, and also notices the irony. And this is life on earth—beautiful and terrible both. The task is to always be mindful of the existence of each aspect, and remain positive always.

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